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Newsletter 24 June 2020

Encaustic Mandylion for Newsletter.


Dear Friends,

Glory to God, we can see our life is slowly returning to normal! 

Encaustic icon of Holy MandylionIn these last months, we not only taught the courses and struggled with technical problems, but we were also thrilled to conquer new technologies. After an inquiry of a client from a remote Russian city, Philip decided, that the best medium for his church will be ENCAUSTIC and started experimenting.

We discovered, that currently there are 3 types of encaustic used by artists/iconographers of our time.

The First method - (easiest and most common) is given in a great number of videos on YouTube, and it really is decent enough to play with this technique and even to produce some interesting works. It's that simple: heat up and melt white cleaned beeswax with dammar resin, and you can start painting right away!

To make the paint more obedient, add turpentine, oil, varnish, and/or many other things, - play and you find the best receipt, working for you. It's melting temperature is higher, than normal wax temperature, so, it should resist a regular day heat (for us it is hard to judge, here we hardly have 3-4 days a year when the temperature goes over 90 Farenheight = + 32 Celsius).

This method, I think, is used very widely by 99% of artists of our time and I used it to paint an icon of the Holy Mandylion with a blueish background. 

Encaustic icon of the Mother of GodThe second method, used by Fr Zinon Teodor, is more complex, - (Fr Zinon says it's from Dyonisios of Fourna). It also lists cleared beeswax, but in this case, it is diluted with potassium, caseine, ammoniac, and copal varnish for painting, covered with dammar with wax and oil at the end. It's a long receipt, and I did not try it yet, so I can't recommend or guarantee anything about it. 

The third one is used by Philip's dad, - Fr Andrey Davydov. He prepares so-called punic wax according to Plinius, boiling regular beeswax several times in seawater with caustic soda, and bleaching it on the sun. The main difference with the very first method is the type of wax because Plinius also suggests melting wax with dammar varnish, - they work together really well. Of course, there are other ingredients involved, but they are more individual and very much depend on personal preferences, - yet it is such a new thing for us.

I made some wax and the image you see here is the very first one,  made with this method. It also was painted on rough worn-out wood, and it is also a great excitement to learn this technology. I continue my research for the icon and hope to get better doing more images of this type.

This technology has some intermediacy, some specific feeling, where every touch and brushstroke is important, and the overall impression is much more alive.

Icon on Fabric. Holy MandylionThe pigments are all the same, but there is no need to cover this image with any varnish since the binder already contains dammar resin, used by many to varnish the icons.


Olga continued her investigation in the world of FABRICS and here I am sharing her latest hand-printed image. It's hand-woven fabric, fabric paint, stencils and pochoir. The height is about 50 cm (20 inches). 

This current image is being made as an icon on fabric, and yet it is slightly unfinished, - there will be some more details, which will make the image look more complex.

The investigation goes on, and as far as I know, Olga also is working on liturgical vestments (the Aer and covers for the Calice and Patene) , but yet I can not share anything, - it's still just a process. I guess she will be sharing something on our Instagram, - stay tuned ;)

Liturgical Banner Mother of God with Christ ChildChrist This next image I am sharing is also a liturgical banner, which Olga has printed some weeks ago. I just did not have time to take a good photograph of it, and the current one was made very quickly. It has several stones and threads on it, - the surface works with great variety and these additional materials make it visually rich and complex. 

It's exciting to see, how objects, which traditionally were always stitched with gold can be interpreted with contemporary technologies of hand-printing.

Therefore we continue to seek for an author, who would be interested in writing about new technologies in church art in general and iconography in particular. With all the respect to Tradition, I think this necessary topic has to be covered in the Orthodox Arts Journal.


Some of you may be interested in hearing, how did our First ONLINE ICONOGRAPHY DRAWING COURSE go?

It went really well even if we are unsure, how to post the "photographs of the class" since we do not have them. 

Instead, we have hundreds and hundreds of drawings of our students, who with Olga's corrections walked through these five weekly assignments. We believe that this hard work was fruitful for everyone.

Now we can report: online teaching is hard, but it has some advantages for drawing. It gives more time for every task and allows a slower pace for communication.

Having just had our last zoom lecture last Saturday, we move on and now we are ready to launch our Second Online Iconography Drawing Course. It is dedicated to Asymmetrical Faces, and it continues the program of the First Course. We decided to keep our Zoom Sessions days the same: Thursdays 19-00 for Australia and Saturdays 11 AM  for the US. You can check all the details on a special page of our new website if you are interested:

LEARNING TOGETHER we have discovered, that one of the main advantages of Online class is the possibility to constantly share the images, discuss them, and ask questions. To continue to stay in touch we decided to make our own little Social Network of Iconographers and started an investigation, - how to make it simple, functional, but yet very private so that no outsiders can insult anyone with undignified approach. We should have some news about it soon, - keep in touch. 

Online Iconography Conference***
ONLINE ICONOGRAPHY CONFERENCES continue. Last week we have had our eights session, and I made a special Playlist on our youtube channel to keep all the conferences accessible: 

Thank you for being with us, and, please, continue praying for each other and for us in this difficult time. May God help us to move on!

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely,
Philip Davydov and Olga Shalamova

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